A House in house concept makes it profitable to transform cultural heritage in rural districts into attractive housing. The architecture and local identity is preserved. This can provide a blossoming local development and lead to an increase in the quality of life.
Rural Denmark has a rich building heritage which is at risk. Old factories and station buildings are left empty and fall into disrepair. This is mainly because there isn't the same economic incentive to transform these buildings as there is in the bigger cities.
In the pilot project Fabers Factories, Arcgency shows how it is possible to rethink the concept of dwelling. By developing a modular building method we are creating affordable, attractive and sustainable housing. This method is applicable in a broad context and provides a means through architecture for each site to preserve its local identity, expressing interesting spatial qualities; variety and tactility.
Transformation Strategy - House in house
When using traditional building methods it is expensive to transform existing buildings. Energy optimization, the challenges of fitting to an existing building and the risk of unforeseeable expenses are factors that increase expenditure when compared to building new.
Arcgencys ‘House in house’ concept turns the challenges into new potential and creates a new housing typology with a strong identity and a small environmental footprint.
Faber's Factories are characterized by its remarkable space sequences. The body of the building shows how the factory has been shaped by its context and how it has developed over time. Instead of adapting the factory to the apartments, Arcgency has chosen to adapt the apartments to the factory.
The core and the shell
Instead of renovating all surfaces and square meters, most of the factory is kept in its current state. Only those building parts that are in a critical condition are renovated. Inside the raw spaces of the factory an independant wood construction is built standing free of the existing structure. We call the new wood construction “The core” and the existing building “The shell”. Each dwelling consists of a core and a shell.
The core constitutes the primary part of the dwelling. It is compact, energy efficient and built in natural materials. It offers excellent daylight conditions, a comfortable indoor climate and great spatial variation. The core comprises an open kitchen-dining area, bedrooms and a bathroom.
The shell is an unheated and uninsulated flexible space. Depending on the season it can be used for activities which are commonly hard to fit in a regular dwelling i.e. atelier, indoor playground and workshop.
The wall between the core and the shell is built from glass panels that can be completely opened up creating a fluid boundary. You percieve the dwelling as a large and flexible space. During the cold months the wall can be closed but the glass ensures that the visual contact is intact. It is in the meeting between the raw unheated spaces and the new core that the building heritage is conveyed. The original surfaces with their traces from wear and tear and the vaulted brick ceiling is a stark contrast to the new and concise wooden constructions - a juxtaposition that makes the dwelling something special. It communicates the history whilst simultaneously creating a setting for something new.
There are the following economical benefits to the concept:
- Reduced costs for structural engeneering as only minor changes are made to the existing structure.
- The core is compact and contains only necessary functions reducing material use per square metre.
- The core is constructed from a modular grid, it reduces work hours and is cost efficiant.
*The shell adds a larger living area but saves costs per square meters as insulation is not required.
- As it is hidden behind The core less surface area requires environmental remediation.
The standardised and the unique
The new cores are constructed according to a modular grid and are kept free from the existing walls. They are built from standard materials, standard measures and with right angles. That way the cores can be built without having to relate to any pre-existing crookedness of the building. The advantages are:
- It makes the work hours more efficient.
- It reduces waste of material.
- Can be made as prefabrication
The unique element is the link between the new core and the existing building. It could be a window opening. In this place the modular grid of the core meets the irregular walls of the existing factory. The unique element is manufactured through the use of 3D scanning and robot fabrication. The scan of the existing walls is used to produce a 3D model. Based on the model a tailored windowsill is designed and manufactured by CNC robots. This creates a unique meeting between new and old.
The concept is based on an industrial mindset the main part of the building components are prefabricated. Through our projects Arcgency has become specialised in prefabrication. We have learnt that in order to offer cost-effective production high volumes must be produced. Prefabrication is therefore not suitable for small projects. For this project the components are locally produced in a small on-site factory. For larger projects the concept can be upscaled.
Wood construction, wood fiber insulation and wood surfaces
To be resource consciousness is a core value for Arcgency. When working with adaptive reuse the office is concerned with using as much of the existing structure as possible. The new material that is added has to be sustainable and be able to be mounted mechanically (with screws etc.), so it is possible to disassemble,reuse and recycle at a later date. We wanted to experiment with the materials used to build Fabers Factory.
The Core is built entirely of wood. This includes load bearing constructions, insulation, ceilings, walls and floors. In addition to being sustainable wood offers additional advantages:
- Wood can absorb and release moisture, this creates a healthy indoor climate.
- A simple construction. The carpenter is the primary builder.
- Wood is easy to process both onsite and if used for prefabrication.
- Ease of maintenance. All surfaces are mechanically mounted and are easily disassembled. Enabling the ability to renovate and reuse.
- Visually defining a clear boundary between new and old.
The project has succeeded in developing a modular building method that can be applied to create affordable, healthy and sustainable housing. Housing that can create the framework for a unique home. We are excited to see how the future tenants will receive the project and make their individual mark on the place.
In 2016 The Danish Transport, Construction and Housing Authority allocated an amount of 30 mio. DKK to development projects that aim to develop modular systems that create modern and flexible rental properties in rural districts preserving cultural heritage.
Faaborg-Midtfyn Municipality was chosen to receive 9.9 mio. DKK to develop four dwellings. The following three municipalities were also chosen:
- Faxe Municipality
- Vordingborg Municipality
- Hjørring Municipality
The project is carried out in collaboration with Aarhus School of Architecture. AAA has selected Fabers Factories as an important cultural heritage site. As part of their project Umistelige Kulturmiljøer i Danmarks Yderområder. In addition to this, AAA has contributed with 3D scanning of the existing factory and research in digital fabrication of building elements.
The modular systems should be able to be used in a broad context. The collected data and knowledge is ’open source’ and will be accessible for everyone through AAA and SBI.